If you relish words – their sounds and subtleties of meaning – then this is the book for you. I say ‘relish’ deliberately because Gerald Killingworth’s masterly skill turns words into something one can almost taste and savour for a long time afterwards.
‘Water Words’ illustrates this perfectly. Syllables become ‘fragments of ocean’ and their length corresponds to the different sounds and sizes of liquid. The monosyllables ‘drip’ and ‘splash’ represent the moment of the ocean’s birth but soon both syllables and water grow into ‘puddle’ and ‘rivulet’, then into ‘cataracts’ and finally, with a thrashing surge, into the magnificent, four syllabled ‘inundations.’
‘Tongues’is another example of the pleasure that words bring, the joy to be found in the ‘arcane quaintness’ of ‘ariff’, ‘crizzle’, ‘fizgigging’, ‘slaughter’ and ‘budge’. But this poem is about more than the fun of playing with parts of speech. It’s about erosion, loss and the…
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